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Crisis Response: LGBTQ Victims Being Hit Twice…Emotionally, That Is

In Advocacy on June 30, 2012 at 5:00 am

We all know that a crime against any person will usually leave that individual feeling a vast array of emotions.  Sadness, anger, detachment, numbness, embarrassment, shame, and guilt are just a few amongst a long list of feelings that a victim will experience.  Crimes of a sexual nature can be especially tough emotionally on a victim.  Every other emotion can instantly be combined with the most intense cases of vulnerability and exposure that a person can imagine going through.  This is where a crisis response team that knows how to cater to the sensitivity of each victim proves to be invaluable.  They need to be able to assess the situation, and the right approach necessary, as to not add more distress to a victim who has already experienced a very traumatic event.

Now, imagine that this victim is also a member of the LGBTQ community.  Of course they would experience the same array of emotions and vulnerability as any other straight person who was sexually assaulted, but there is a second issue that they may find themselves dealing with.  In some cases, LGBTQ individuals are victimized in a sexual manner strictly because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  As someone who has been in crisis response for many years, it is not a surprise when a LGBTQ sexual assault victim tells me that their assailant yelled offensive slurs or derogatory comments regarding their sexual orientation before or during the assault.  This can add to the feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, anger, etc, that these victims feel, as some victims will start to blame themselves for being attacked.  They can feel that they are wrong for the life that they live, and once again someone is making it clear that they think something is wrong with them.  As a punishment for being who they are, they may start to believe they deserved what happened to them.  Instead of blaming the other person’s ignorance or hatred, many victims turn the blame inward.  In reality, not only have they been assaulted physically, but mentally as well.  They have been hit twice.  Through experience, most crisis responders become aware of this aspect of the sexual assault of an individual in the LGBTQ community.  This makes it all the more important for the crisis response team to be aware of all of the differing emotions that the victim will be going through and be able to provide them with the type of quality service they deserve.

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